I have no idea what the Lord has in mind. Sometimes I think I do. But not during this virus management/recovery/shelter at home time in our world. In classic American cultural fashion, I want to fix things, now in order to return to what could be counted on. But I can’t. I see photos of scarcely stocked if not empty shelves, lines of fifty allowed into HEB at a time, cars wrapped around drive-through windows. I am told through email, “Don’t stop the mission.” What does that look like with no gatherings allowed and fellowship is at best virtual? I am forced to ask the Lord a question; “Lord, what do you have in mind here? No, really, Lord! I haven’t heard anything from You yet.”
So, I go to where the Lord does speak. Sure enough, He does. During my regular reading time in the Word and at this moment when there is a “rumble of panic” beneath everything, one verse stood out. Joshua was reflecting on the past. He was thinking about God’s faithfulness and steadfast nature. And he writes in his reflection: “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 12:45).
That is a good word in a time of underlying anxiety. God is faithful in His promise and presence. His children need to be reminded of and hear this again and again. Jesus says, “I will be with you to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:20). Hebrews 13:5 tells us that “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’” Paul exhorts the Philippians to “Be anxious for nothing.” And Peter says, “casting all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you.” In almost a sarcastic nature Jesus reminds us that the Father knows about the sparrow and even the grass of the field. What are you concerned about? (Read Matthew 6:19-34)
These passages and so many more like them calm my spirit, address my anxiety, and give me pause to reconsider, “Lord, in Your sending, what do you have in mind?”
Maybe just that. It is what you have in mind, not me. He is in control. He knows. And that is a huge lesson. As Pastor Jon Salminen said in his online worship/sermon on March 22nd, “God has gotten the attention the entire world.” And as my colleague and friend, Rev. Dr. Yohannes Mengsteb has pointed out on numerous Zoom meetings, “The evil one would have this virus destroy, but God will use it for the strengthening and growth of His kingdom of grace.” And as the Rev. Dr. Jon Braunersreuther points out, “Keep Calm – Wash Your Hands.”
Good lessons all. I will guess that I will need to relearn them tomorrow again. But this is a good start. Now, what about my neighbor?
By Rev. Steve Misch
Mission and Ministry Facilitator, Area A